Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blending Against Your Will

Let me make an obvious statement: divorce sucks. It is a life-changing, soul-wrenching process, and when it involves children, the pain and suffering increases exponentially. At times, it feels as though the decision to leave my husband was a million times easier than the process of actually doing so. Most days, now that the majority of the storm has passed, I feel confident in my decision. It was a beautiful marriage on the outside, with a diseased core that could never be healed. And once it started to crumble, it collapsed around every single person in all of our lives like a civilization on the brink of extinction. It affected so many people, which was amazing to watch, actually, considering that the collapse began based on one single lie.

Now that time has passed, and that lie no longer affects my daily existence, I am faced with a new, difficult challenge. The blended family. My ex-husband had a baby two months after out divorce was finalized, and he got re-married on my birthday. I feel nothing but pity for his new wife (she, alas, has not found out about the one lie that led to our divorce), yet she lives with my 8-year old daughter quite a bit of the time, and this has brought up feelings in my daughter and I myself that I am as of yet unequipped to handle. It is hard to see my daughter with her father and step-mother, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable to have my daughter love this other woman.

Make no mistake, I am happy that this woman has accepted my daughter into her life, and gives her unconditional love, as I would. I am usually not a jealous person by nature for any length of time, nor am I one that believes that I have the best love, or the only love that my daughter should ever cherish. I do believe it takes a village to raise a child, and the more love and support they have, the better off they are. Yet I get a visceral reaction when I see my daughter hug her step-mother, or tell her that she loves her on the phone when my daughter is with me. It makes me feel inadequate, it makes me feel as though somewhere along the path I failed at something that I can't quite put my finger on. The worst part about it is that my daughter seems to sense it. From both sides. If she's holding hands with me and we see her stepmother at school, she drops my hand immediately. And if she's with her step-mother and sees me at school, she runs up to me with hugs and kisses while sneaking furative glances of guilt back at her step-mother. I know my daughter wishes her father and I were still together, despite all of the brutality she witnessed in our home; she's made this clear to me on more than one occasion. How confusing it must be for a child to feel love towards someone you don't necessarily even want in your life!

No answers have come to me on how to navigate through these feelings; I acknowledge them, and move on with my day. Perhaps in a moment of quiet observation when they begin to wash over me once again, the path will become clear, and I will feel this way no longer.


  1. First, welcome to the blogosphere! VERY glad you made it. And now for some tough love. . .
    "How confusing it must be for a child to feel love towards someone you don't necessarily even want in your life!"
    So is it you, her mother, that doesn't want the stepmother in your life? Or has your daughter expressed that sentiment?
    Betcha $50 your daughter is afraid to make you unhappy by loving her stepmother. And I betcha another $50 she's afraid to make her stepmother and her father unhappy by loving you.
    She needs to be told how lucky she is to have so many incredible people in her life. And that you're just fine with her loving her stepmother as much as she does any other adult in her family.
    Really, the only way you could fail her here is by not allowing her to receive love from the people closest to her. And that would be pretty spectacularly selfish.

  2. I'm happy to be here! The someone she doesn't want in her life comment comes from the fact that my daughter wishes her father and I were still together. If that was the case, there would be no stepmother. She would prefer there was no stepmother, only mom and dad. As for telling her that she is lucky about having so many people in her life to love her, you are spot on. She needs to know that there is no loyalty in love, and the more people that love her and that she can love, the more joy she will discover in her life. I'm working on spreading this message to her as often as I can!

  3. Wow, what a tough situation for all involved. I commend your honesty.

  4. you know why i love this post? because you've got the vision to go deep, the clarity to see clearly and the strength to share. you give us a real look at loyalty and love within the blended family. yours is a voice needed among all the ordinary chatter online.

  5. I am so very proud of your continued growth and the wisdom gained from the challenges you have overcome, and the attitude in which you go forward. You are a great mother, blessed with healthy, loving parents, friends and extended family. I am honored to be among those who will always be there to support you and Chloe.

  6. love is the law. it doesn't make anything easier, in fact, it can make things more challenging when you're aware that ordeals will confront your deepest emotions. i don't believe we are given more than we can handle, but it gets pretty effin close! stand tall thou path walker, your lessons will teach many... bless...